Swedish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard once said that ‘Life is best understood backwards’ and he could not have been nearer to the truth. For writers, researchers and historians, the proverb is of the utmost importance since they all base their studies on what had already happened, hoping that in doing so, they will help their fellow men live their future better.

As soon as I read on the newspapers that politician George Vella is to be the next President of the Republic of Malta, I could not stop thinking of the connection that the last three presidents have either with Qormi or with its protector St George of Lydda. Living in what is being considered by many as a post-Christian era, focusing on such a connection may sound both provincial and parochial at best. However, since there is a basis for a bond between the two, I will proceed just the same to state my point. 

Facts are facts and they are not subject to fashion. Ironically, the Maltese office of the President of the Republic has managed to confirm St George as the quintessentially ‘Maltese’ saint.

President Emeritus George Abela was born in Qormi on April 22, 1948. He was baptised in the parish church of St George of his native town and in 1974 he started his connection with Qormi FC as club treasurer and was appointed president in 1976.  His connections with Qormi run deep; he was called George after the patron saint of the locality in which he was born and bred.   

It is a standard tradition that national institutions such as royal families and old orders of chivalry have their own protector saint

His successor Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca was born in Qormi on December 7, 1958. Born and baptised in St George’s parish church, she was educated at St George’s Primary School in Qormi before proceeding to other schools and later on to the University of Malta from where she graduated as notary public.  Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca was elected President of the Republic of Malta on April 4, 2014. A parliamentary resolution on April 1, 2014, approved her nomination as the ninth President of Malta.

George Vella, the 10th President of the Republic of Malta, was born in Żejtun on April 24, 1942. As far as I know, he has no connection with Qormi but he was born on the morrow of St George’s Day.  Having graduated MD in 1964, the year of Malta’s Independence, later on he became lecturer at the department of physiology and biochemistry at the Royal University of Malta.  It is an interesting fact that his one and only son is also called George. 

With so many connections with April 23 and with St George, the Christian saint of old whose image decorates our national flag, I would like to humbly suggest to our new President of the Republic to take into consideration the possibility of naming St George as the protector saint of the office of the President of the Republic. 

It is a standard tradition that national institutions such as royal families and old orders of chivalry have their own protector saint.  So it would be a significant gesture to proclaim this martyr-saint of old – who is already revered as one of Malta’s celestial protectors and Gozo’s patron saint – to proclaim him as the Protector of Malta’s highest office. 

In Britain, St George is the patron saint and protector of the monarch and in the Vatican city-State, April 23 is a holiday since Pope Francis’s original name is Jorge Mario. 

Even at a time when religion no longer plays the main role in Maltese society, such a gesture might hold an ecumenical significance as Malta moves from being a predominantly Catholic country to a place where peoples from various countries, cultures and faith come together in their day-to-day business.


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